Monday, February 21, 2011

“Enough about us. What do you think about us?”

When Toyota first launched their Ideas For Good campaign, I was hopeful. I thought, yes!, this is the next Refresh Project. Except it wasn’t. Not even close.

Key differences. Is Toyota asking me about my ideas? No. Are they supporting my ideas? No. In fact, just the opposite. They’re asking me to take their ideas and apply them in ways they haven’t thought of. My sense of ownership is very, very low.

So is my sense of opportunity. What do I get if I come up with a great idea? What’s in it for me? (There’s probably something, but I haven’t had the patience to dig to find it.)

I understand. Toyota is really trying to bolster its good guy image, especially after it’s tough PR and sales year (and oh, you know, terrifying people). I can picture the endless string of meetings that led to this Ideas For Good campaign. And all the hard work that obviously went into it; it’s produced exceedingly well, soup to nuts.

But the very premise of the campaign is flawed. “Tell us how you would take our technology, and make the world a better place.” Sounds a lot like, “Please do free work for us, and give us free ideas, and we’ll try to look good for asking.” 

Don’t get me wrong. I love Saatchi. Love them. Super smart, and as a network they’re incredibly dedicated to helping brands do Good. Awesome.

But this campaign runs full sprint, sideways. It’s attempts at crowd-sourcing, collaboration, involvement, and participation haven’t done what it should have. It hasn’t become talk-worthy. None of my friends are sending it to me saying, “Check out what I did with Toyota!”
(Their most popular commercial has 25k views on YouTube. Others have about 8k.)

Next time, celebrate the customer’s ideas instead of your own. They’ll care more.